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Music Inside Out: How to Make It in the Music Business

Over the years, guests of Music Inside Out have described any number of approaches to making a living in music. Some have had greater commercial success than others. They’ve hit the top of the record charts and toured the world. Of course, commercial appeal is only one measure of a musician’s contribution to the art form. Talent, musicality, creativity and imprint on culture cannot be discounted. And yet, artists need the approbation that only a steady income can bring. Without a living wage and the financial wherewithal to support the creation of more music, they falter and their careers go nowhere.

This show is dedicated to all the musicians who’ve appeared on Music Inside Out and particularly to those whose interviews we’ve excerpted — PJ MortonRobin BarnesSylvan EssoAurora NealandQuiana Lynell, and Big Freedia. It’s also dedicated to Scott Aiges, founder of the Sync Up conferences in New Orleans — which help independent musicians find a way to stay alive in the industry.

For those of us who love Louisiana’s unusually varied musical landscape, every day is Thanksgiving. Wishing the music makers fair wages, steady royalties and long and prosperous careers.

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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.